It’s been a long standing myth that sugar makes kids hyperactive, but several studies have shown that kids (or adults) consuming large amounts of sugar does not inherently cause them to start bouncing off the walls.
Dr. Tom Robinson, director of the Center for Healthy Weight Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, is convinced that the expectation of sugar making a child hyper can actually become a self-fulfilling prophecy for many parents.
“The way we think we should feel has a lot to do with how we do feel,” he said.
The Journal of the American Medical Association published a review of 23 studies on the effects of sugar, and the results support Dr. Robinson’s theory.
One study randomly divided 35 boys, ages 5 to 7, and their mothers into two groups. The boys were reported by their mothers to be behaviorally “sugar sensitive”.
Although both groups of children actually received a placebo (aspartame) — researchers led one group of Mothers to believe that their sons had consumed a drink which contained a large concentration of sugar.
The study revealed that Mothers who believed their sons had consumed sugar rated their children as significantly more hyperactive.
“I would never try to convince parents the sugar high doesn’t exist,” says Dr. Robinson, “You can’t tell them it doesn’t happen because, for them, it does happen.”
Extensive research has not found a connection between sugar and hyperactivity, despite a widespread belief to the contrary. But even though eating handfuls of Halloween candy may not be making your kids act crazy, Robinson recommends that parents limit candy and other sugary treats for weight control and proper dental health.
While high-sugar foods contain unnecessary calories that can lead to obesity — sugar may be making kids fat, but not hyper.